Microsoft is renowned for laying claim to the largest partner ecosystem in the world, so the release of Windows 11, the latest iteration of the vendor’s most ubiquitous product, is set to send ripples of influence throughout the global channel industry.
The Microsoft partner community has for decades been at the centre of how the company brings technologies and business transformation to customers around the world. As such, the release of the Windows 11 is likely to impact partners of all kinds in a number of ways, some general in nature, others reasonably specific to the new features included in the latest iteration of the operating system.
Starting with the general and entirely predictable impacts the new release is likely to have on partners, Windows 11 provides a new platform for distributors, resellers and services partners to innovate, grow their businesses and deliver on the "promise of digital transformation for customers across organisations and industries".
This is according to Nicole Dezen, Microsoft global partner solutions device partner sales vice president, who suggested in a blog post that showcasing the benefits of modern hardware on Windows 11 could help to accelerate device refresh among partners’ customers.
Additionally, migrating customers to Microsoft 365 can help establish higher value, subscription revenue streams from device to the cloud – from monthly Microsoft 365 subscriptions to Azure Virtual Desktop and device-as-a-service (DaaS), according to Dezen.
“Third, by leveraging Windows and Microsoft 365 technologies and tools such as Azure Active Directory, Intune, Endpoint Analytics, Autopilot and Cloud Configuration, partners are well-positioned to deliver highly scalable, cloud-based device and application deployment, management, custom solutions, and support services,” Dezen said.
“And lastly, with Windows 11 and Microsoft 365, partners can deliver the zero trust ready identity and security services that commercial customers are searching for,” she added.
As noted by Microsoft 365 general manager Wangui McKelvey in a separate post, Windows 11 is zero trust ready and secure by design, with new built-in security technologies designed to add protection from the chip to the cloud while enabling productivity and new experiences.
Key security features like hardware-based isolation, encryption, and malware prevention are turned on by default.
For global systems integrators (GSIs) and advisory partners, who play an integral role in advising customers on the value of migrating to a new version of Windows while providing services around deployment, desktop management services, device set up and support, Windows 11 will bring a host of additional engagement opportunities.
“Windows 11 will enable GSIs to help keep their customers’ devices protected through cloud management services, and by using cloud-based tools to deploy the latest security updates,” Dezen said. “GSIs will have full control to approve, schedule, and monitor any Windows Update content, including security updates, drivers and firmware.”
Independent software vendors (ISVs), meanwhile, are in a position to develop new applications that straddle cloud and desktop while making use of the new capabilities Windows 11 brings to both hardware and the entire Microsoft ecosystem.
“Windows continues to be the platform that connects the most ISVs to the most customers around the world, and Windows 11 offers a fresh application programming interface (API) platform for application builders to develop, launch and sell their apps,” Dezen said.
“With many language options and accessibility features, Windows 11 opens the doors for application builders to deliver a comprehensive choice of cloud apps and cloud to edge solutions to help people create content, capture and manage data, manage their businesses and finances, and more. Over the past year, we’ve seen tremendous growth in app development for Microsoft Teams, HoloLens, Azure Stack HCI and Windows IoT.
“With the Microsoft commercial marketplace, there are more opportunities than ever for ISVs to sell their applications, and it is easier than ever for customers to locate the latest ISV applications in an effortless browsing experience,” she added.
Broadly, Microsoft claims to be creating a more open ecosystem with Windows 11 that is expected to benefit developers in a few ways.
Developers and ISVs, for example, can bring in their apps to the Microsoft Store regardless of the app framework they are built on, such as Win32 or Progressive Web App (PWA).
Additionally, a progressive change to Microsoft’s revenue share policies means that developers can keep 100 per cent of their commerce revenue. App developers can still use Microsoft’s commerce ecosystem with a competitive revenue share of 85/15, the company noted.
Without going into further detail, Dezen said that Microsoft would, over the next few months, bring a “groundswell” of innovation and opportunity for its partners and customers around the world as a result of the Windows 11 launch.
“The next generation of businesses, consumers, students, and gamers are ready for more personal, streamlined experiences at work and play. Our device, ISV, GSI, and channel partners are poised to scale their businesses by providing organisations with edge to cloud solutions enhanced by Windows 11,” she claimed.
The new operating system, which will soon be available as a build for Windows Insiders with general availability to follow, includes features such as a simplified Taskbar and Start menu, plus some visual upgrades, including rounded corners and a fresh look for familiar interface elements—even in the way light moves across pixels.